The Vanishing Procyclicality of Labor Productivity and the Great Moderation Jordi Galí

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The Vanishing Procyclicality of Labor
Productivity and the Great Moderation
Jordi Galíy
Thijs van Rensz
September 9, 2008
Abstract
We document three changes in postwar U.S. macro dynamics: (i)
the procyclicality of labor productivity has vanished, (ii) the relative
volatility of employment has risen, and (iii) the relative (and absolute)
volatility of the real wage has risen. We hypothesize a potential common source for those changes: a decline in labor market frictions.
We develop a simple model with labor market frictions, variable effort, and wage rigidities to illustrate the mechanisms underlying our
hypothesis, and to explore the latter’s consistency with the observed
decline in output volatility.
Keywords: labor hoarding, labor market frictions, wage rigidities,
shot-run increasing returns to labor.
JEL Classi…cation: E32
We have ben…ted from comments and suggestions by participants at the CREI Macro
faculty lunch and the NBER Summer Institute. Davide Debortoli provided outstanding
research assistance.
y
CREI and Universitat Pompeu Fabra. E-mail: [email protected]
z
CREI and Universitat Pompeu Fabra. E-mail: [email protected]
1
Introduction
The evidence of a signi…cant decline in the volatility of GDP and other major
U.S. macroeconomic time series over the past two decades–the so called Great
Moderation–has brought to light the evolving nature of the postwar U.S.
business cycle. The present paper documents and discusses three aspects of
that evolution:
(i) The correlation of labor productivity measures with output or labor
input has declined, in some cases dramatically.1
(ii) The volatility of labor input measures has increased (relative to that
of output).2
(iii) The volatility or real wage measures has increased, both in relative
and absolute terms.3
While each of these observations may be of independent interest and have
potentially useful implications for our understanding of macro ‡uctuations,
our goal in the present paper is to explore their possible connection. In particular, we seek to investigate the hypothesis that those three developments
may have a common source, namely, an increase in labor market ‡exibility,
i.e. in the ease with which …rms may adjust their labor force in response to
various kinds of shocks. In order to illustrate the mechanism behind that hypothesized link we develop a stylized model of ‡uctuations with labor market
1
As far as we know, Stiroh (2008) was the …rst to provide evidence of a decline in the
labor productivity-hours correlation. Barnichon (2007) and Galí and Gambetti (2009),
using di¤erent approaches, independently investigated the potential sources of that decline.
2
To the best of our knowledge, Galí and Gambetti (2009) were the …rst to uncover
that …nding, but did not provide the kind of detailed statistical analysis found below.
Independently, Hall (2007) o¤ered some evidence on the size of the decline of employment
over the most recent U.S. recessions that is consistent with our …nding.
3
As far as we know, this …nding has not been reported earlier.
1
frictions, and investigate how its predictions vary with the parameter that
indexes the importance of such frictions.
The main intuition behind that mechanism is easy to describe. Suppose
that …rms have two margins for adjusting their e¤ective labor input: (observed) employment and (unobserved) e¤ort, which we respectively denote
(in logs) by nt and et .4 A production function gives (log) output as a function of the previous variables, as well as a parameter at capturing the level
of technology.
yt = (1
) (nt +
et ) + at
Implied (log) labor productivity is thus given by
yt
nt =
nt + (1
) et + at
The presence of labor market frictions (i.e. large costs of adjusting nt ),
generates smaller ‡uctuations in employment, larger ‡uctuations in e¤ort.
As a result, the volatility of employment rises relative to that of output.
Furthermore, labor productivity may become procyclical, even if technology
shocks are not very important. Conversely, a reduction in labor market frictions would be expected to make labor productivity less procyclical (or even
countercyclical) and to raise the volatility of employment (and hours) relative to output, in a way consistent with the empirical evidence, as reported
below.
In addtion, and as recently emphasized by Hall (2005), the presence of
labor market frictions generates a non-degenerate bargaining set for the wage,
i.e. a wedge between the …rms’and workers’reservation wages. Any wage
4
To simplify the argument we assume for the time being that hours per worker are
constant.
2
within that bargaining set is, in a sense, consistent with equilibrium. That
feature makes room for rigid wages, which in turn may amplify the response
of employment and output to supply shocks. Accordingly, a reduction in
labor market frictions is likely to make wages more sensitive to those shocks,
thus dampening the volatility of output and employment in response to those
shocks. That feature may help explain the observed decline in the volatility
of those two variables in the recent U.S. experience.5
The remainder of the paper is organized as follows. Section 2 documents
the changes in the patterns of ‡uctuations in labor productivity, employment
and wages. Section 3 develops the basic model. Section 4 describes the
outcome of simulations of a calibrated version of the model, and discusses its
consistency with the evidence.
2
Changes in Postwar U.S. Economic Fluctuations: Three Observations
Next we document the three stylized facts that motivate our investigation,
pertaining to the cyclical behavior of aggregate measures of labor productivity, labor input and wage measures. We use quarterly time series covering
the period 1948:I-2007:IV and drawn from di¤erent sources (see below for
a detailed description). To illustrate the changes experienced by the different statistics considered, we split the sample period into two subperiods,
1948:I-1983:IV ("pre-84") and 1984:I-2007:IV ("post-84"), with the choice of
5
As argued in Blanchard and Galí (2007), an increase in the ‡exibility of wages may
also help explain the lesser sensitivity of both GDP and in‡ation to the recent oil price
shocks, relative to the 1970s.
3
break date motivated by the existing evidence on the timing of the Great
Moderation.6
Our evidence makes use of alternative measures of output and labor input. In all cases labor productivity is constructed as the ratio between the
corresponding output and labor input measures. Some of the evidence makes
use of output and hours in the nonfarm business sector from the BLS. We
also use GDP as an economy-wide measure of output, with the corresponding
labor input measures being either total hours or employment. The time series for economy-wide hours is an unpublished series constructed by the BLS
and used in Francis and Ramey (2008). The employment series is the usual
based on the household survey. In all cases we normalize the output and
labor input measures by the size of the civilian noninstitutional population
(16 years and older).
We use two alternative transformations in order to render the original
time series stationary. Our …rst transformation uses a Band-Pass (BP) …lter
to remove the components of the log of the variable at hand corresponding
to periodicities below 6 and above 32 quarters, with the resulting component
interpreted as the one associated with business cycle frequencies.7 The second
transformation corresponds to the four-quarter di¤erence (4D) of the log of
each variable.8
6
See, e.g. McConell an Pérez-Quirós (2000)
See, e.g. Stock and Watson (1999).
8
This is the transformation favored by Stock and Watson (2002) in their analysis of
changes in output volatility.
7
4
2.1
The Vanishing Procyclicality of Labor Productivity
Table 1 reports the contemporaneous correlation between labor productivity
and output, and labor productivity and labor input, for alternative measures and transformations (BP and 4D) of those variables. For each measure/tranformation we report the estimated correlation for each of the two
subsample periods considered, as well as the di¤erence between those estimates. In brackets we report the standard error for each estimate, computed.using the asymptotic distribution of the corresponding GMM estimator.9 An asterisk denotes that the change in the estimated correlations across
sample periods is signi…cant at the 5 percent level.
2.1.1
Correlation with Output
Independently of the measure and detrending procedure use, the correlation
of labor productivity with output in the pre-84 period is high and positive,
with the point estimates ranging between 0:45 and 0:87 (all of them significant). In other words, from the vantage point of the early 80s –the period
when the seminal contributions to RBC theory were written– the procyclicality of labor productivity must have been a well established empirical fact,
which could lend support to business cycle theories that assigned a central
role to technology shocks as a source of ‡uctuations.
For the post-84 period, however, that pattern has changed considerably,
with the estimates of the labor productivity-output correlation dropping to
9
We use GMM to estimate the standard deviations and covariances of each pair of
variables, as well as their corresponding (asymptotic) standard errors. The standard error
for the correlation is obtained by applying the delta method to its formula in terms of the
standard deviations and covariances.
5
values close to (and not signi…cantly di¤erent from) zero, when we use hours
(NFB or total) to construct our labor productivity measure. The di¤erence
with the corresponding pre-84 estimates is highly signi…cant. Thus, and
on the basis of those estimates, labor productivity has become an acyclical
variable (with respect to output) over the past two decades.
As reported in the third panel, when we use an employment-based measure of labor productivity, the estimated correlations remain signi…cantly
positive in the post-84 period. But this should not be surprising given that
hours per worker are highly procyclical in both subperiods (its correlation
with output is 0:82 and 0:77, respectively, using BP …ltered data) and that
their volatility relative to employment-based labor productivity has increased
considerably (from 0:63 to 0:90).10 Those considerations notwithstanding,
our empirical analysis still can uncover a decline, relatively small but statistically signi…cant. in the correlation between employment-based labor productivity and GDP.
2.1.2
Correlation with Labor Input
The right-hand panel of Table 1 displays several estimates of the correlation
between labor productivity and labor input, using alternative measures and
detrending methods. The estimates using hours-based labor productivity
10
Letting l and n respectively denote employment and hours, a straightforward algebraic
manipulation yields the identity:
(y
l; y) =
y n
(y
n; y) +
y l
n e
(n
l; y)
y l
Thus, even in the case of acyclical hours-based labor productivity (i.e. (y n; y) ' 0),
we would expect (y l; y) to remain positive if hours per worker are procyclical (i.e.
(n l; y) > 0 ).
6
measures for the pre-84 period are low, and in two cases, insigni…cantly
di¤erent from zero. They range from 0:03 to 0:20, thus suggesting a largely
acyclical labor productivity with respect to hours in that subperiod. That
near-zero correlation is consistent with the evidence reported in the early
RBC literature, using data up to the mid-1980s.11
As it was the case when using output as a reference variable, the estimated
correlations between labor productivity and hours decline dramatically in the
post-84 period. In fact they all become negative, their values tightly clustered
around
0:5, and with the change between the two subperiods being highly
signi…cant. In other words, labor productivity has become in the past two
decades unambiguously countercyclical with respect to hours.
Once again, when employment is used to construct the labor productivity variable, the latter displays a positive correlation with labor input (given
by employment in that case) in both sample periods, due to the high procyclicality of hours per worker. Despite this "contamination," aggravated by
the larger relative volatility of hours per worker in the more recent period,
our estimates point to a decline in the correlation, though that decline is
signi…cant only when BP …ltered data are used.
2.2
The Increase in the Relative Volatility of Labor
Input
The left-hand panel of Table 2 displays the standard deviation of several
labor input measures for the pre-84 and post-84 periods, as well as the ratio
11
Christiano and Eichenbaum (1992) used data up to 1983:4 (which coincides with the
cut-o¤ date for our …rst subperiod), but starting in 1955:4. Their estimates of the labor
productivity - hours correlation were 0:20 when using household data and 0:16 when
using establishment data.
7
between the two. The variables considered include nonfarm business hours,
economy-wide hours, and the two components of the latter, i.e. employment
and hours per worker.
The decline in the volatility of hours since the mid-1980s, like that of
other major macro variables, is seen to be large and highly signi…cant, with
the ratio of standard deviations ranging between 0:57 and 0:7. A less well
known fact is that such a volatility decline has a¤ected both employment and
hours per worker, the two components of hours, in a roughly proportional
way, with the ratio of standard deviations being close to 0:6 in both cases,
independently of the transformation used.
A more interesting piece of evidence is given, in our opinion, by the
change in the relative volatility, measured as the ratio to the standard deviation of output, of the abovementioned variables. The right-hand panel of
Table 2 displays the relative volatility measures for the two sample periods
considered, as well as their ratio. We note that, with no exception, all labor
input measures have experienced an increase in their relative volatility in the
post-84 period, relative to the pre-84 period. Combined with the previous
evidence this implies that the decline in the variability of labor input has
been far more muted than that of output. In the case of total hours (both
nonfarm business and economy-wide), as well as hours per worker, the size
of the increase in the ratio of standard deviations ranges between 30 and 50
percent. The corresponding increase for employment is somewhat smaller (16
or 36 percent, depending on the detrending method), but still statistically
signi…cant.
The previous evidence points to a rise in the elasticity of labor input with
8
respect to output. Put it di¤erently, …rms appear to have relied increasingly
on labor input adjustments in order to meet their changes in output. Furthermore, that larger elasticity seems to apply to both observable margins
(i.e. adjustment in the number of workers as well as in hours per worker).
2.3
The Increase in Wage Volatility
Next we turn our attention to (real) wages, their variability, and how the
latter has changed over time, both in absolute and relative terms. We focus
on two alternative wage measures, both of which are constructed using compensation per hour in the nonfarm business sector (LXNFC) as a measure
of the nominal wage. The latter variable is divided by the nonfarm business
price de‡ator (LXNFI) to obtain a measure of the product wage, and by the
consumer price index (PCU) to construct a time series for the consumption
wage.
The left-hand panel of Table 3 displays the standard deviation for each
wage measure and subperiod. Our statistics uncover a surprising …nding: despite the general decline in macro volatility associated with the Great Moderation, the volatility of both the product and consumption wages appears
to have increased in absolute terms. The estimated increase the standard
deviation is large.and signi…cant for the product wage, but more moderate
and statistically insigni…cant for the consumption wage. We are not aware
of any earlier reporting of this fact.12
An immediate implication of the previous …nding, and the one that we
want to emphasize here, is the very large increase in the volatility of wages’
12
Stock and Watson (2002) uncover breaks in the volatility of a long list of macro
variables, but they do not provide evidence for any wage measure.
9
relative to output or hours, as shown in the second and third panels of Table
3. In particular, we see how the relative volatility of the wage has more than
doubled for all the measures and corresponding transformations considered
(and has trebled in one case). We interpret that evidence as being consistent
with the hypothesis of a decline over time in the signi…cance of real wage
rigidities.13
Table 4 helps reinforce the previous evidence, while focusing on the joint
behavior of the wage product and labor productivity, and its changes over
time. Labor productivity provides an interesting reference since a wide class
of perfectly competitive models (including the standard RBC model) imply
that it should move one-for-one with the wage in equilibrium. The evidence
in Table 4 makes clear that the extent to which this is true, and the nature
of the deviations from that benchmark, depend very much on the period one
looks at. Thus, we see that in the pre-84 period the standard deviation of the
product wage was approximately only 60 percent that of labor productivity,
and its correlation with the latter variable was less than 0:5. In the post-84
period, by contrast, the standard deviations of the product wage is shown
to be substantially (and signi…cantly) larger than that of labor productivity. As a result, the ratio of relative standard deviations between those two
variables has more than doubled across the two sample periods considered.
Furthermore, as shown in the right hand panel of Table 4 the correlation
between the product wage and labor productivity has increased signi…cantly
across sample periods, though it remains well below unity in the most recent
13
Blanchard and Galí (2008) argue that a reduction in the rigidity of real wages is needed
in order to account for the simultaneous decline in in‡ation and output volatility, in the
face of oil price shocks of a similar magnitude.
10
period.
Having documented with some detail the changing patterns of labor productivity, labor input, and wages, we next turn to possible explanations.
More speci…cally, and as anticipated in the introduction, we explore the hypothesis that the observed changes documented above may have, at least
partly, a single common explanation, namely, a decline in the signi…cance of
labor market frictions.
3
A Model of Economic Fluctuations with
Labor Market Frictions
Next we develop a model of ‡uctuations with labor market frictions. Our aim
is to illustrate the mechanisms through which changes in the importance of
those frictions may provide a potential explanation for the observed changes
in the properties of macro ‡uctuations discussed in the previous section. In
order to focus on that goal we keep the model as simple as possible in dimensions that are likely to be orthogonal to the factors emphasized by our
analysis. Thus, our model abstracts from endogenous capital accumulation,
trade of goods and …nancial assets with the rest of the world, and imperfections in goods markets. We also ignore any kind of monetary frictions, even
though we acknowledge that the latter, in conjunction with changes in the
conduct of monetary policy in the Volcker-Greenspan years, may have played
an important role in accounting for the decline in macro volatility.14
14
See, e.g. Clarida, Galí and Gertler (2000) for a discussion of the possible role of
monetary policy in the Great Moderation.
11
3.1
Households
We assume an in…nitely-lived representative household with a continuum of
members represented by the unit interval. The household is the relevant
decision unit, and has an objective function given by
E0
1
X
t=0
t
U (Ct ; Nt ; fEit g; Zt )
where Ct denotes household consumption, Nt 2 [0; 1] is the fraction of household members who are employed, Eit is the amount of e¤ort put by household
member i 2 [0; 1], and Zt is a preference shock. Parameter
2 (0; 1) is the
usual discount factor. For simplicity we assume a constant workweek, thus
restricting the intensive margin of labor input adjustment to changes in effort.
We specify the household’s period utility to be given by:
U (Ct ; Nt ; fEit g; Zt )
Zt log Ct
Z
Nt
b+
0
Eit1+'
1+'
di
where b can be interpreted as a …xed cost of working.
The objective function above is maximized subject to the sequence of
budget constraints.
Ct =
Z
Nt
Wit di +
t
0
where Wit denotes the wage accruing to household member i, and
t
rep-
resents …rms’ pro…ts which are reverted to households in the form of dividends.15
15
For simplicity we ignore the possibility of trade in …nancial securities, which would
have no impact on equilibrium given our assumption of homogenous households.
12
Employment evolves over time according to the law of motion:
Nt = (1
where
Ut
1
) Nt
1
+ x t Ut
is an exogenous separation rate, xt denotes the job …nding rate, and
(1
)Nt
1
represents the fraction of household members who are
unemployed at the beginning of period t:
3.2
Firms
We assume a continuum of identical …rms producing a homogenous consumption good. Technology is represented by the production function
Yjt = At
Z
1
Njt
Ejit di
0
where Yjt is output and At is an exogenous, time-varying technology parameter common to all …rms.
The …rm’s objective function is given by
E0
1
X
Q0;t (Yjt
Wjt Njt
Gt Hjt )
(1)
t=0
where Wjt Njt represent labor compensation, Hjt denotes the number of hires,
Gt is the (non-wage) cost per hire, which is taken as given by each individual
…rm. Finally, we de…ne the relevant stochastic discount factor recursively
as Q0;t
Q0;1 Q1;2 :::Qt
1;t ,
Ct Zt+1
.
Ct+1 Zt
where Qt;t+1
employment evolve over time according to
Njt = (1
) Nj;t
13
1
+ Hjt
Finally, the …rm’s
3.3
Labor Market Frictions
In our model labor market frictions are represented by the lack of a centralized labor market. When a worker separates from a …rm he joinf the pool
of the unemployed. An unemployed person cannot bid down the wage until
he gets a job o¤er. Instead he has to wait for a …rm to employ his services
at a wage that is bargained ex-post. In that bargaining the worker’s market
power arises from the fact that the …rm would have to incur a hiring cost
Gt to replace him. That hiring cost, which is taken as given by the …rm, is
determined by
G t = At x t
where
xt
Ht
2 [0; 1]
Ut
is an index of labor market tightness, with Ht
Z
Hjt dj denoting aggre-
gate hires. Note that from the viewpoint of the household xt represents the
probability that each unemployed member …nds a job in period t, i.e. the
job …nding rate.
3.4
The Firm-Worker Relationship
We assume that, once a worker is employed by a …rm, his individual e¤ort is
determined e¢ ciently, by equating its marginal product to its marginal disutility (expressed in terms of consumption). Formally, the following equality
must be satis…ed for all workers and …rms:
Ct '
E = (1
Zt jit
)
14
Yjt
(1
Ejit
Njt Ejt
)
Given that in equilibrium all workers will supply the same e¤ort:
Ejt1+' = (1
)
Yjt Zt
Njt Ct
(2)
which can be combined with the production function to yield the following
equilibrium e¤ort schedule for …rm j
Ejt =
(1
) At Njt
Zt
Ct
1
1
(1
)+'
(3)
When considering whether to hire a new worker, the …rm needs to take
into account the impact of that decision on its workers’ level of e¤ort, as
given by (3). Thus, the marginal product of a new hire is given by
dYjt
@Yjt
@Yjt @Ejt
=
+
dNjt
@Njt @Ejt @Njt
Yjt
= (1
)
Njt
where 1
= (1
) 1
1
(1
)+'
.
Maximization of the …rm’s value implies the following optimality condition:
Gt + Wjt = (1
)
Yjt
+ (1
Njt
) Et fQt;t+1 Gt+1 g
(4)
i.e. the …rm will hire up to the point where the cost of employing a new
worker (hiring cost plus wage) equals the worker’s marginal product plus the
savings in hiring costs resulting from having to hire 1
fewer workers in
the following period.
Once a …rm and a worker have been matched they bargain over the wage,
taking their outside option into account. The …rm’s surplus, StF , associated
15
with a given employment relationship is given by the cost of replacing the
worker, i.e. the hiring cost Gt . Equivalently, iterating (4) forward, it is given
P
by Et 1
)k ((1
) (Yj;t+k =Nj;t+k ) Wj;t+k ), the expected
k=0 Qt;t+k (1
sum of discounted pro…ts generated by the new hire.
Let VtN and VtU denote the marginal value (expressed in terms of the
consumption good) accruing to the household, generated by an employed and
an unemployed member, respectively. Note that in the symmetric equilibrium
we must have
Ct
(1
)
b
Zt
1+'
+Et fQt;t+1 [(1
(1
Yt
Nt
N
xt+1 )) Vt+1
+ (1
VtN = Wt
VtU = Et fQt;t+1 [(1
U
xt+1 ) Vt+1
]g
N
U
xt+1 ) Vt+1
+ xt+1 Vt+1
]g
where we have used (2) to substitute for the e¤ort level when deriving the
expression for VtN .
Thus, the surplus accruing to the household from an existing employment
relation, StH
StH = Wt
VtN
VtU , is given by
Ct
b
Zt
(1
)
1+'
Yt
+ (1
Nt
) Et fQt;t+1 (1
H
g
xt+1 ) St+1
(5)
We can now de…ne the wage bargaining set as.the range of wages consistent with an e¢ cient employment relationship, i.e. one such that StH
and StF
0
0. The lower and upper bounds of the bargaining set correspond,
16
respectively, to the reservation wage for household and …rms, and are given
by
WtL =
Ct
(1
)
b+
Zt
1+'
WtU = (1
Yt
Nt
)
(1
Yt
+ (1
Nt
) Et fQt;t+1 (1
H
xt+1 ) St+1
g
) Et fQt;t+1 Gt+1 g
(6)
(7)
Thus, and following Hall (2005), any wage process that satis…es
Wt 2 [WtL ; WtU ]
for all t is consistent with equilibrium.
Nash barganing provides one possible criterion for wage determination
that satis…es the above e¢ ciency condition. It assumes that the wage is
adjusted period by period so that the total surplus from an employment
relationship is split between the …rm and the worker according to the proportionality rule
StH = (1
where
) StF
denotes the share of the surplus allocated to the …rm, which is a
measure of the latter’s bargaining power. Using (4) through (7) above we
obtain the following expression for the wage:
) WtU
WtL + (1
Ct
(1
) Yt
=
b+
+ (1
)(1
Zt
1 + ' Nt
+(1
)(1
) Et fQt;t+1 xt+1 Gt+1 g
(8)
Wt =
17
)
Yt
Nt
Shimer (2005) and Hall (2005), among others, have argued that period-byperiod Nash bargaining generates too volatile a wage in equilibrium, relative
to what is observed in the data. As discussed below, in our model period-byperiod Nash bargaining leads to ‡uctuations in the (log) wage of the same
amplitude as labor productivity, and perfectly correlated with the latter.
This is at odds with the evidence shown in Table 4 where, in particular,
the wage is shown to be roughly half as volatile as labor productivity in the
early sample period, while displaying a far from perfect correlation with the
latter variable. Both the relative volatility and the correlation of the wage
(vs. labor productivity) increase signi…cantly in the post-84 period. This
motivates the introduction of a wage setting mechanism that departs from
period-by-period Nash bargaining. In what follows, and for the purposes of
illustrating the role of wage rigidity, we make the extreme assumption of a
constant wage when labor market frictions are present. In particular, we
assume that the wage is …xed at the steady state level for the Nash wage, i.e.
Wt =
W L + (1
) WU
(9)
for all t. In that case we need to guarantee that the …xed wage remains within
the bargaining set when the latter shifts around in response to shocks. This
will be the case if the following conditions are met: (i)
is not too close
to zero or one (i.e. if the relative bargaining power of workers and …rms is
not too uneven), (ii) the shocks are not too large, and (iii) the size of the
bargaining set is su¢ ciently large. It is easy to show that condition (iii) is
intimately related to the size of labor market frictions. More speci…cally, we
18
note that
WU WL
1
(W U W )
=
1
=
G
i.e. the average size of the bargaining set is proportional to the steady state
hiring cost. Thus, the larger is the latter the easier it will be for any given
smooth path for the wage to be consistent with equilibrium.
3.5
Equilibrium
Next we list the conditions that characterize the equilibrium of our model
economy, and which we obtain by combining the optimality conditions derived above (after invoking symmetry) with the relevant market clearing
conditions.
Yt = At (Nt Et )1
Et1+' = (1
Nt = (1
xt =
)
) Nt
(10)
Yt Z t
Nt Ct
1
+ Ht
Ht
1
(1
)Nt
1
G t = At x t
Yt = Ct + Gt Ht
Gt = (1
)
Yt
Nt
Wt + (1
Qt;t+1 =
) Et fQt;t+1 Gt+1 g
Ct Zt+1
Ct+1 Zt
19
(11)
given any wage process fWt g satisfying Wt 2 [WtL ; WtU ] for all t, where the
bounds WtL and WtU are de…ned by (6) and (7) above, and where the logs
of the two driving forces at
At and zt = log Zt follow stationary AR(1)
processes
at =
a
at
1
+ "at
zt =
z
zt
1
+ "zt
where f"at g and f"zt g are independent white noise processes with variances
given by
2
a
and
2
z
respectively.
As mentioned above we consider two alternative wage-setting rules: (i)
period-by-period Nash bargaining (henceforth referred to as "‡exible wage"
regime), as described by
Wt =
WtL + (1
) WtU
and (ii) a "rigid wage" regime where the wage given by the stady state Nash
wage:
Wt =
W L + (1
) WU
Next we use the above model to analyze the possible role of labor market
frictions in generating the observed changes in the cyclical patterns of output,
labor input, productivity, and wages.
4
Changing Cyclical Patterns: The Role of
Labor Market Frictions
This section provides an analysis of our model economy’s equilibrium under alternative assumptions regarding the size of labor market frictions and
20
the setting of wages. We start by looking at a frictionless version of the
model without frictions, which provides a useful benchmark and for which
an analytical solution exists. When we introduce frictions we rely instead on
a log-linearized version of the model, focusing on the simulations of a calibrated version of the model under two alternative wage rules: ‡exible and
rigid.
4.1
The Frictionless Case
We consider the limiting case of an economy with no hiring costs (
= 0)
thus implying Gt = 0, for all t. In that case Nash bargaining requires that
StH = StF = 0 for all t, which can be shown to imply
Wt = (1
)
Yt
Ct
(1
)
=
b+
Nt
Zt
1+'
Yt
Nt
(12)
for all t. On the other hand the goods market clearing condition now simpli…es to
Yt = Ct
for all t, which combined with (12) yields:
Nt =
where
1
b
Zt
+ (11+') , i.e. employment varies in proportion to the preference
shifter Zt but is invariant to technology shocks. Using (11), together with
the above relation we obtain
Et1+' =
(1
1
) b
thus implying an e¤ort level that is invariant to ‡uctuations in the model’s
driving forces. While the latter property is undoubtedly the result of some
21
of the special assumptions made on preferences and technology, it provides
a useful benchmark for our purposes.
Letting lower case letters denote the natural logarithms of the original
variables and ignoring constants terms we can derive the following closed
form expressions for equilibrium employment, output, the wage, and labor
productivity:
nt = zt
yt = (1
wt = yt
) zt + at
nt =
z t + at
Using the previous equations we can easily determine the model’s implications for the second moments of interest. In particular we have
cov(yt
n t ; yt ) =
cov(yt
(1
n t ; nt ) =
) var(zt ) + var(at )
var(zt )
Thus we see that, in the absence of labor market frictions, labor productivity is unambiguously countercyclical with respect to employment. On the
other hand, and due to the fact that preference and technology shocks generate comovements of di¤erent sign between labor productivity and output,
the sign of the unconditional covariance between those variable depends on
the relative importance of the two types of shocks.
Furthermore, the volatility of output and that of employment and the
wage relative to output are given by the following expressions:
var(yt ) = (1
)2 var(zt ) + var(at )
22
var(nt )
=
var(yt )
(1
var(wt )
=
var(yt )
(1
var(zt )
2
) var(zt ) +
2
var(at )
var(zt ) + var(at )
)2 var(zt ) + var(at )
Thus, we see that the size of the relative volatility measures above depends
again on the relative importance of the shocks, as well as on the size of ,
the parameter determining the degree of decreasing returns to labor. Below
we use some of these formulas to calibrate the variance of the driving forces.
Having characterized the equilibrium of a version of the model with no
frictions, and determined the corresponding expressions for the second moments that were the focus of our empirical analysis, we now turn to the
analysis of a version of the model with frictions. Our objective is to in. Since
an analytical solution does not exist when frictions are present we need to
rely on simulations of a calibrated version of the model. We brie‡y discuss
our calibration strategy in the next subsection.
4.2
Calibration
Our calibration corresponds to a quarterly frequency, in consonance with our
evidence. Many of the model’s parameters can be easily calibrated to values
that are standard in the literature. The fact that we have little guidance
for others is not so important given that our goal here is just to illustrate
some qualitative changes in the patterns of ‡uctuations that may result from
changes in the importance of labor market frictions.
Our baseline calibration is as follows. We set the discount factor
equal
to 0:99, a standard value in the literature. The elasticity of the marginal
disutility of e¤ort, ', is set to unity. We assume
23
= 1=3. We assume that
the hiring cost function is quadratic with respect to labor market tightness,
i.e.
= 2. Parameter
is set at a value such that hiring costs represent 0:1
percent of output in the steady state. We assume equal bargaining power and
set
= 0:5. The separation rate
and the disutility of employment b are set
in oder to match a job …nding rate x equal to 0:7 and an unemployment rate
of 5:5% in the steady state, in a way consistent with the observed average
values for those variables in the postwar period.
Regarding the model’s two driving forces, we assume a high persistence
for both of them, thus setting
brate
2
a
and
2
z
a
=
z
= 0:9. Given those values, we cali-
so that the frictionless version (i.e. assuming
= 0) of our
calibrated model (analyzed in the previous subsection) matches the volatility of BP-…ltered output and hours in the post-84 period (using nonfarm
business data). This requires that
(var(yt )
(1
2
z
= (1
2
z)
var(nt ) and
2
a
= (1
2
a)
)2 var(nt )). Note that by using that calibration strategy we
are implicitly thinking of the frictionless model as the one characterizing the
macro ‡uctuations of the post-84 period.
4.3
Simulations
Table 5 reports comovement and volatility statistics for three versions of our
calibrated model: the frictionless model, the model with frictions and ‡exible
wages, and the model with frictions and rigid wages. Note that for the frictionless case, and given our calibration strategy, both the standard deviation
of output (y) and the relative standard deviation of labor input, (n)= (y),
match the post-84 data exactly. Interestingly, however, the implied correlation of labor productivity with output is close to zero (0:11), whereas the
24
corresponding correlation with respect to labor input is negative ( 0:53 ) in
that case, in a way consistent with the evidence for the post-84 period. The
same is true for the relative volatility of the wage, which is shown to be 0:72
in the calibrated frictionless model, and around 0:85 (s.e.= 0:10) in the data
(as seen in Table 3). The second and third rows display the corresponding
statistics conditional on technology and preference shocks, respectively, thus
making clear the role of each type of shock in generating the unconditional
second moments.
What are the consequences of introducing labor market frictions on the
previous statistics? As the second panel of Table 4 illustrates, the introduction of frictions, in the form of hiring costs, has several implications, even
when we maintain the assumption of ‡exible wages (period-by-period Nash
bargaining in our case). Importantly, and as a look at Table 5 makes clear,
the changes brought about by the introduction of hiring costs in that case
can be traced to changes in the economy’s response to preference shocks.
The reason is simple: in our model, employment is invariant to technology
shocks in the absence of frictions, thus the latter do not have any in‡uence
on the economy’s response to technology shocks when they are introduced.
We see that an immediate consequence of the introduction of hiring costs
is the reduction in the volatility of output and, more than proportionally, in
the volatility of employment. While the latter is consistent with our proposed
interpretation of the U.S. evidence, the former is clearly not, being in con‡ict
with the larger volatility observed in the pre-84 period. The same is true
regarding the model’s predictions on wage volatility, which increases relative
to output as a result of the introduction of frictions.
25
On the other hand, labor market frictions a¤ect the cyclical behavior of
labor productivity in a direction consistent with our interpretation of the
evidence: they generate a signi…cant increase in the correlation of labor productivity with output (from a value close to zero to a high positive value) and
labor productivity with labor input (from a large negative value to one close
to zero). Note, however, that those changes in labor productivity comovements are not driven by variations in the underlying conditional correlations,
but instead they are the result of the change in the relative importance of
the two shocks, with preference shocks having a smaller weight as a source of
‡uctuations in the presence of frictions. The absence of a signi…cant change
in the correlations conditional on the non-technology shocks is, on the other
hand, at odds with the evidence reported in Galí and Gambetti (2008).
The third panel of Table 5 reports the statistics corresponding to a version
of the model with hiring costs and real wage rigidities. The introduction of
the latter has two key e¤ects on second moments. First, there is a reversal
in the sign of the correlations of labor productivity with output and labor
input conditional on preference shocks, which become positive. The reason is
that the rigid wage dampens the response of employment, since wages do not
react now to the reduction in the household’s enhanced willingness to work.
The increase in employment results exclusively from the higher marginal
product of labor induced by the greater e¤ort triggered by the preference
shock. Thus, …rms use variations in e¤ort to a much greater extent than
variations in employment. As a result, the correlation of labor productivity
with both output and labor input changes sign and attains a value close to
one.
26
Secondly, the presence of a rigid wage breaks the invariance of employment to technology shocks. This leads to an ampli…cation of the economy’s
response to those shocks, with the conditional volatility of output nearly
doubling. The latter e¤ect more than o¤sets the decline in output volatility
conditional on preference shocks, bringing the unconditional volatility to a
level higher than in the frictionless model. That result is consistent with our
interpretation of the possible role of a decline in labor market frictions as a
source of the Great Moderation.
[to be completed]
5
Conclusions
[to be written]
27
References
Francis, Neville and Valerie Ramey (2008): "Measures of Hours per
Capita and their Implications for the Technology-Hours Debate," unpublished manuscript.
Hall, Robert E. (2007): "How Much Do We Understand about the Modern Recession?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 2, pp. 13-28
Stock, James and Mark Watson (2002): "Has the Business Cycle Changed
and Why?," NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2002, MIT Press.
Wen, Yi (2004): "What Does It Take to Explain Procyclical Productivity?," Contributions to Macroeconomics, vol. 4, issue 1.
28
Table 1. Cyclical Behavior of Labor Productivity
Correlation with Output
Correlation with Labor Input
Pre-84 Post-84 Change Pre-84 Post-84
Change
Nonfarm Business
BP
4D
0:61
(0:04)
0:66
(0:05)
0:01
(0:09)
0:07
(0:09)
0:62
(0:10)
0:58
(0:10)
0:18
(0:07)
0:20
(0:07)
0:53
(0:07)
0:49
(0:09)
0:72
(0:10)
0:69
(0:11)
Total (hours)
BP
4D
Total (employment)
BP
4D
0:45
(0:06)
0:57
(0:06)
0:84
(0:02)
0:87
(0:02)
0:03
(0:08)
0:11
(0:08)
0:74
(0:04)
0:72
(0:04)
0:42
(0:11)
0:46
(0:10)
0:10
(0:04)
0:14
(0:04)
0:03
(0:08)
0:05
(0:08)
0:41
(0:07)
0:32
(0:07)
0:51
(0:07)
0:46
(0:08)
0:18
(0:09)
0:20
(0:10)
Note: standard errors in brackets. An asterisks indicates signi…cant
change across periods at a 5% level (one-sided test).
0:54
(0:11)
0:51
(0:11)
0:22
(0:11)
0:12
(0:12)
Table 2. Labor Input Volatility
Absolute
Relative to Output
Pre-84 Post-84 Ratio Pre-84 Post-84 Ratio
Hours (NFB)
BP
4D
(0:10)
2:07
(0:08)
(0:05)
(0:03)
(0:06)
1:18
1:46
3:07
2:17
0:70
0:76
1:14
1:50
(0:18)
1:35
(0:16)
0:65
(0:06)
0:80
(0:03)
(0:07)
(0:09)
(0:11)
Hours (Total)
BP
4D
1:78
(0:09)
2:62
(0:17)
1:02
(0:06)
1:69
(0:11)
0:57
(0:04)
0:64
(0:06)
0:89
(0:03)
0:82
(0:04)
1:16
(0:06)
1:12
(0:06)
1:30
(0:08)
1:36
(0:10)
Employment
BP
4D
Hours per worker
BP
4D
1:17
(0:06)
1:66
(0:09)
0:73
(0:06)
1:32
(0:12)
0:60
(0:04)
1:06
(0:09)
0:49
(0:03)
0:83
(0:05)
0:51
(0:04)
0:64
(0:06)
0:64
(0:06)
0:62
(0:06)
0:58
(0:03)
0:52
(0:03)
0:38
(0:03)
0:41
(0:03)
0:68
(0:04)
0:71
(0:03)
0:56
(0:03)
0:55
(0:05)
1:16
(0:08)
1:36
(0:10)
1:45
(0:13)
1:33
(0:16)
Note: standard errors in brackets. An asterisk indicates signi…cant
change across periods at a 5% level (one-sided test).
Table 3. Wage Volatility
Absolute
Relative to Output
Relative to Hours
Pre-84 Post-84 Ratio Pre-84 Post-84 Ratio Pre-84 Post-84 Ratio
P-Wage
BP
4D
C-Wage
BP
4D
0:70
(0:07)
1:24
(0:09)
0:89
(0:05)
1:71
(0:11)
0:99
(0:06)
1:60
(0:11)
0:98
(0:06)
1:64
(0:10)
1:40
(0:16)
1:29
(0:03)
1:10
(0:09)
0:95
(0:09)
0:27
(0:02)
0:31
(0:02)
0:34
(0:03)
0:42
(0:03)
0:86
(0:08)
0:85
(0:11)
0:85
(0:08)
0:86
(0:11)
3:15
(0:40)
2:74
(0:42)
2:47
(0:29)
2:03
(0:30)
0:34
(0:03)
0:40
(0:03)
0:43
(0:03)
0:56
(0:05)
0:73
(0:05)
0:73
(0:08)
0:72
(0:06)
0:75
(0:08)
Note: standard errors in brackets. An asterisk indicates signi…cant
change across periods at a 5% level (one-sided test).
2:15
(0:25)
1:82
(0:25)
1:68
(0:18)
1:35
(0:18)
Table 4. The Product Wage and Labor Productivity
Relative Volatility
Correlation
Pre-84 Post-84 Ratio Pre-84 Post-84 Change
BP
4D
0:59
(0:06)
0:60
(0:05)
1:40
(0:10)
1:31
(0:11)
2:35
(0:28)
2:17
(0:25)
0:42
(0:07)
0:48
(0:07)
0:62
(0:06)
0:62
(0:05)
0:20
(0:09)
0:14
(0:08)
Note: standard errors in brackets. An asterisk indicates signi…cant
change across periods at a 5% level (one-sided test).
corr(y
n; y)
corr(y
n; n)
Table 5. Model Simulations
No Frictions
Frictions (0.1%)
Both Tech Pref
Both Tech. Pref
Wage rigidity
Both Tech Pref
0:11
1:0
1:0
0:84
0:53
0:0
1:0
(n)
(y)
1:18
0:0
1:5
0:54
0:0
(w)
(y)
0:72
1:0
0:5
0:92
(y)
1:15
0:70
0:90
0:78
0:10
1:0
0:98
0:97
0:97
0:98
0:0
0:98
0:96
0:96
0:96
1:16
0:80
0:81
0:79
1:0
0:46
0:0
0:0
0:0
0:70
0:37
1:35
1:33
0:20
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